ALLEN, Texas — State Rep. Jeff Leach lives just a mile from where the Allen massacre took place. It’s in the heart of his District 67.
In the immediate aftermath of an event that left eight innocent people dead, seven more wounded and hundreds more still suffering from shock and fear after being caught in the middle of a mass shooting involving another AR-15-style rifle, Leach said lawmakers will respond boldly and swiftly.
“Make no mistake: this is an emergency for our state. This is an emergency for every state. And we ought to treat it as such,” he told us on Inside Texas Politics.
The Republican was adamant when he told us he thinks the Allen shooting will lead to policy change.
The question is what type of legislation… and when?
Leach, like many Republicans, pointed to mental health solutions, such as his legislation that would make sure databases at the state and federal level are linked, so mental health red flags aren’t missed.
The Texas House also recently approved a bill that would ban small devices used to turn handguns into fully automatic weapons (also known as “Glock switches”).
But that chamber also killed a measure that would raise the minimum age to buy some semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, even after two Republican lawmakers voted in favor of the legislation allowing it to advance out of committee.
Leach said there are no bills currently under consideration that would have prevented the Allen attack.
But he and a handful of other Republicans, including Rep. Frederick Frazier (R-McKinney), have at least signaled they’re willing to have discussions about other gun safety proposals.
“I’m a firm Second Amendment supporter. I am not going to waver from that, nor apologize from it. But are there things that we can do and policies that we can advance here at the state Capitol that can protect our citizens and prevent this from happening again? Yes. And I’m open to those things and eager to be a part of those discussions,” Leach told us.
The current legislative session ends May 29, so lawmakers are running out of time.
And the deadline for many bills to be considered in the Texas House came and went last week, so many ended up in the trash heap.
When asked if he thought there would be a special session, Leach only said if there needs to be one, the Governor will call it.
“We’ve got a little less than three weeks left in this legislation session. We’re going to use any and all tools in the toolbox to advance legislation that that will protect our Second Amendment rights and yet keep our communities safe. We’ve got time left here to do it. And we’re working around the clock to do just that,” the Republican said.